Praying and growing in faith
Lord! Save me! (19th Sunday, A)
BRIEFLY, faith leads to salvation whilst prayer is the way of faith. By faith, men and women completely submit their intellect and will to God. As that happens by means of prayer, that is why prayer is the way of faith!
BUT nobody wants to be faithful or obedient to anyone anymore – certainly not God. This is because nobody wants to pray. It’s all a bit too much as faith ultimately calls for the complete assent of man to God; of creature to Creator. It’s not such a bad deal and it involves our willing consent, but we often cry foul. Currently, the UN would, if they could, charge God with discrimination against gays and lesbians (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-06/australia-breaching-human-rights-over-same-sex-divorce:-un/8778798), because our faith involves our submission to something greater, and God would be the conspirator!
SO, LET’S THINK ABOUT IT. Although faith leads to salvation (which is quite desirable, I think), would Jesus find any faith on earth? The current lack of faith was prophesied by the Lord, just before his second coming. We are in that time of apostasy. We need to cry out with Peter: “Lord, save me.”
Getting back to the faith means getting back to God through prayer. Prayer remakes our mind uniting our heart to God. This is the seed ground for our growth in virtue. The foremost is humility because it is the foundation of all the virtues. Where this virtue doesn't exist, there can't be virtue except in mere appearance. Humility helps us recognise our need of God and love flows from that 😊
Lord! Save me (personally)!
Growing in faith through prayer and the practice if virtue, is one way of growing in faith. Another way to think of our faith growing, is through a living relationship with Jesus. This is also cultivated through prayer. The difference is prayer becomes deeply personal. When we open our heart to the Lord knocking at the door of faith, prayer becomes a deeply intimate friendship. Through this relationship established by prayer, we encounter Jesus person to person. Personal relationships are dangerous because they are challenging! Through a personal relationship Jesus is more able to transform our hearts because we are more welcoming of his presence and more open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Just a few more thoughts. Faith actually has three stages. The purgative – meaning we purge ourselves of any sinful ways. Although I didn’t mention that first stage of repentance before, I did talk about the other two. Classically, these are the illuminative way of faith, where we grow in virtue and get an understanding of who Jesus is. This is because, through the practice of faith, the Holy Spirit enlightens our mind to understand the mysteries of God. The last, more passive and more personal stage, is the unitive. This is where, through the sheer desire to be one with God, we become one in spirit with the Lord.
Through these stages we gradually learn how to submit the whole of our mind and will to God (because we freely wish to do so). The life of faith is the most beautiful way of life. Thanks be to God.
Note: The Eucharist is our greatest prayer, but that’s for another day!